Timeline: Afghanistan's 2009 presidential election

With Afghanistan's UN electoral watchdog poised to announce within days the result of a vote-rigging probe into the August 20 presidential ballot, we look back at the build-up to one of the country's most disputed votes.


President Hamid Karzai calls on the country’s Independent Election Commission to hold an election as stipulated in the constitution. The IEC picks the date of August 20.

Karzai’s presidential mandate ends on May 21. He announces his decision to stand for re-election.

Roughly half of the country’s population, some 15.6 million voters, are registered to vote, according to NATO officials. The announcement is made as reports by the media and the election watchdog of widespread fraudulent activity, even before the election, start to appear.

August 15

Violence escalates ahead of polling day. A suicide car bomb hits NATO’s headquarters in Kabul’s most fortified district, leaving seven people dead and 91 wounded. Among the dead are several foreign soldiers. The Taliban claim responsibility.

August 18

An attack on a NATO convoy heading to a British military base kills nine people and wounds at least 50.

The Afghan government imposes a ban on the media for election day, banning news organisations from reporting any information on violence occuring during the vote because it may influence voter turnout.

August 19
Afghan election officials order more than 440 polling stations to stay closed during the vote out of concern over election fraud. The IEC accuses Karzai supporters of keeping polling stations open within insurgent-held regions, where they can not be properly monitored by observers.

August 20
Election day.

Dispute over election results as fraud allegations loom

August 25
The first preliminary results, with about 10 percent of the votes counted, show Karzai leading his main opponent, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, by just two percent.

August 28
The US government puts pressure on incumbent Karzai to respect the electoral process, after he claims victory before any official result is announced.

Despite looming electoral fraud allegations against him, Karzai rejects charges of widespread voting irregularities.

September 8
The UN-appointed Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC), an election fraud watchdog, orders a recount of polling stations where it has found "clear and convincing evidence of fraud."

September 10
The ECC orders the invalidation of tens of thousands of ballots, mostly Karzai votes, at 83 polling stations from three provinces.

September 15

The ECC orders a recount of 2,600 polling stations - about 10% of the total - after it claims to have found some irregularities.  

September 16
The IEC announces the first complete set of preliminary results since August 20. According to the IEC,  President Hamid Karzai wins the election with 54.6 percent of the vote while his main opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, trails behind with 27.8 percent.

October 19

US election observers Democracy International say a run-off vote is needed in Afghanistan after a UN-led probe into election fraud cuts President Hamid Karzai's tally to below 50 percent.

October 20

Hamid Karzai faces a run-off vote against challenger Abdullah Abdullah after neither candidate received more than 50 percent of votes, the IEC says.

"We believe that this decision of the IEC is legitimate, legal and constitutional and that it strengthens the path towards democracy," Karzai said in remarks televised live on Afghan television.

The run-off vote is due to take place on November 7.

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